Over the last decade Thailand has become one of the world’s most popular holiday destinations with more than 16 million foreign visitors every year, including 800,000 visitors from the UK.
Thailand’s stunning white beaches, picturesque countryside, succulent cuisine, buzzing nightlife and laid-back Buddhist culture make it easy to see why it’s so popular with tourists.
However, Thailand remains a comparatively inexpensive country to visit. Prices have crept up over the years but still remain well below those of most European countries. Travellers will find they can enjoy a good standard of living on a very reasonable budget, thanks to the relative weakness of the Thai baht against foreign currencies such as the British pound and US dollar.
Where to go
As in all countries your money will go further outside of cities and major tourist areas such as capital city Bangkok and the more well-known beach islands, such as Ko Samui and Ko Phangan, which tend to be more expensive than rural areas.
It’s possible to get by on a budget of 700 baht per day by staying in cheaper hostels, using local transport, without splurging on expensive meals out or large quantities of alcohol. Street food can be a good option to keep costs down as it will be a lot cheaper than guesthouse food, but you may need an adventurous palate.
Those on a stricter budget or who want to avoid the main tourist hordes – should head for quieter islands like Ko Chang, national parks like Khao Yai and Khao Sok, or rural Isaan in the northern part of the country, which sees far fewer tourists. Another way to beat the crowds and save money is to visit in the low season of July and August when prices will be at their lowest.
Midrange and luxury travellers
In the mid-range price band visitors can expect to pay around 1000 baht for an air-conditioned hotel room, and 300-400 baht for a Western-style meal. For those with cash to splash five star hotels will be similar to western prices.
Prices are approximate and subject to change
Thai baht exchange rate
One of the reasons that so many millions of tourists flock to Thailand every year is the favourable exchange rate between the Thai baht and most of the European and North American currencies. There are currently around 50 Thai baht to the pound, but bear in mind that exchange rates are volatile and can fluctuate, even from day to day.
Thai currency tips
- To get a competitive exchange rate on the Thai baht head to the Post Office and change your money before you get to the airport.
- Thai bank notes come in denominations of ten baht, 20 baht, 50 baht, 100 baht, 500 baht and 1,000 baht.
- The ten baht note was replaced by a coin several years ago, but the notes are still used occasionally, especially outside the major cities.
- The baht is comprised of 100 satang, and its coins come in denominations of 25 satang, 50 satang, one baht, two baht, five baht and ten baht.
- When you first arrive in the country, make sure that you have some Thai currency in lower denominations (a few 50 baht notes would be ideal), as taxi drivers and smaller shops might not be able or willing to accept larger notes.
- Tipping is not generally considered necessary in Thailand, but it is customary to leave behind some loose change when paying the bill in a restaurant, and a service charge may be added to the bill in hotel restaurants, or the more upmarket eateries in the big cities.
- Pickpockets are increasingly common, especially in the major tourist areas, so don’t keep large sums of money in your wallet – instead carry only the money you are likely to need that day and keep the rest of your cash in several different places in your luggage.
Keep track of your spending
At a current rate of around 50 bahts to the pound, conversion is reasonably easy for the British traveller – to find out the equivalent cost of something in pounds, simply divide the Thai baht price by 50. For example, a street snack at 25 baht costs around 50p, a train ticket costing 800 baht is £16 and a luxury hotel room costing 32,000 baht is roughly £640.
Always bear in mind that the exchange rate can fluctuate and the examples given above are intended as a guideline. To keep tabs on your holiday spending check the exchange rate before you buy your travel money and throughout your trip. (Current exchange rates are printed daily in the Bangkok Post and The Nation)
Thai currency facts
- The Thai baht is the sole legal currency of Thailand, and is issued by the Bank of Thailand
- In 2007 the Bank of Thailand introduced a new silver two baht coin that was only slightly larger than the existing one baht coin, and consequently very easily confused. You will often find that someone has written a number ‘2’ on the coin with a marker, in order to differentiate it. A new, brass-coloured, two baht coin was issued in 2009, in order to reduce this confusion
- The satang coins are so low in value as to be almost worthless, and once received are very hard to dispense with. Some tourists keep them as souvenirs; others give them away to beggars, or as tips
Get your Thai currency from the Post Office
- Order online or in your local Post Office branch, up to five days in advance
- Have your holiday currency delivered to your door for all online orders – minimum £400 order value applies online
- Orders placed before 3pm, on a working day, can generally be delivered the next working day. Where an order is placed on a Friday and delivery to your home is required on a Saturday, there will be a charge of £1.50
- 0% commission, competitive rates on over 70 foreign currencies
- Show your Post Office receipt, and we’ll buy back your leftover Thai bank notes commission-free
- Order Thai currency online
- Or call us on 0845Calls to 0845 numbers may be charged at up to 5p per minute from a fixed line and calls from mobiles can be considerably higher. Calls may be monitored or recorded for training and compliance purposes. 8500 900.* Lines are open 8.00am - 5.30pm Monday to Friday
*Calls may be recorded, monitored and used for training and compliance purposes